PEÑITAS, Texas – New to town with few friends, Abigail Garcia didn’t know what she was getting herself into when she followed a classmate’s recommendation to go to the local Buckner Family Hope Center. But she was struggling through her sophomore year of high school and the center’s after-school program offered help.
The moment she crossed the threshold, her life changed more than she could possibly realize.
“I met wonderful youth,” she said. “I started getting more into it. I told friends, ‘I think I like it. I think God put it in my way for a reason.’”
With the encouragement and assistance of Buckner staff members – and plenty of hard work – Abigail’s grades improved. Staff members saw her dedication to school and rewarded her with a scholarship after high school. She used it to attend Kaplan College, where she became a certified nursing assistant.
Abigail’s parents were initially skeptical of the Hope Center, but quickly changed their minds after they saw how much it helped their daughter. They investigated the other offerings and enrolled in classes such as financial management and fatherhood. Soon, they’d earned enough points for a mission team to build them a new house.
One of the teams that constructed the house was from First Baptist Church in Gatesville, Texas. Abigail connected with several of the team members who work in the medical profession. They encouraged her and offered some guidance for her next steps.
“I am really, really blessed,” Abigail said. “We have such a great Buckner family.”
Now Abigail teaches the anger management class for youth at the Hope Center. Stepping in front of the class brought back old memories. “It kind of reminded me of the first time I came to Buckner. I saw all the new faces, seeing them talk to each other. I remembered what it was like when I first came. It’s a privilege.”
Abigail hopes to bless students through the class, including her sister. So many people have invested in her life through Buckner. She wants to do likewise to those who are coming behind her.
“When I came here, you see all these new faces and they don’t just look at you and turn around. They look at you and try to help you out. The fact that they’ve helped me, my family and I see all the changes they’ve made in the community, it makes me want to be part of it. It makes me proud to say I go to this center.”